Buyer’s ranked the quality of the neighborhood as the most important factor when purchasing a new home according to The National Association of Realtors survey of home buyers. Although it is not totally possible to know everything about a neighborhood before you move in, a thorough investigation will help ensure that you move into the right community that fits your lifestyle and needs.
Familiarize yourself with the community. There are numerous websites on the Internet that will provide you with everything including school rankings, hospitals, entertainment, major employers and crime rates. Crimereports.com provides real time crime maps and reports for specific areas. Find out the city’s population, median household income and median home price to assist you with your home search.
Even if you don’t have children, neighborhood schools do matter. You may have children in the future and good schools ensure higher resale prices and greater demand for properties in the neighborhood. Check out education.com and GreatSchools.net which allow you to search by zip code, city, district or school name. They also give you the ability to check out test scores, student-to-teacher ratios and demographics.
Noise plays an important factor when buying a home. Plan on visiting the neighborhood at various times during the day and night. Are you near an airport and hear the planes taking off or near a busy road and hear traffic noises?
Also, when you drive around a potential neighborhood, check out the surroundings. Are the streets clean and maintained? Are there clean parks? Sidewalks are good indicators that there are parks and other amenities nearby and they make the neighborhood safer. Is there public transportation? You should be comfortable with the level of services available in the neighborhood.
Is the neighborhood in a flood zone? Ask your insurance agent if you need flood insurance. If you are in a flood plain it doesn’t mean that the area has ever flooded or ever will. It just means that it is at a higher risk of flooding.
Most importantly, if you find a neighborhood with great schools, low crime and convenient to everything, but it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, the likelihood is you won’t be happy. Be sure to find the right neighborhood that fits you first, then the rest will fall into place.